Want an example of exactly how fast the world of tech moves? Ten years ago, Amazon Alexa and Google Home were unheard of. Now, your child can build one!
Well, maybe not those particular smart home assistants. But it’s fascinating to see how a device like a home assistant, heralded as a technological marvel only a few short years ago, is now so obsessively internalized that you can literally hand a child a box of parts that can be built into an assistant of their very own. And its name is Spencer.
Funded by enthusiastic Kickstarter investors, Spencer is a DIY voice assistant that does a lot of the same stuff that Alexa can — except you (or anyone in the recommended 14-and-over age range) actually construct and program it yourself.
CircuitMess put this cool little project together: a kit that includes a guidebook and all the necessary components to craft your very own voice assistant. The build itself takes about four hours, and while it does require some basic soldering, the process alone opens up a world of new tech skillsets for both young and old.
Along the way, your knowledge of microcomputers, electronics, LED grids, and sound processing will be put to the test. Knowing coding disciplines that support artificial intelligence, voice recognition, and speech synthesis also comes in handy. All in all, Spencer is a great project for any builder who wants to learn a host of useful talents.
Once Spencer is up and running, he does all the cool tricks we’ve come to expect from a home assistant device. Spencer and his quirky personality can deal out a weather report, read the news, tell a joke, sing a song, set alarms and reminders, or display animations of his LED screen.
CircuitMess even imparted a little anxiety in Spencer’s digital psyche, so he actually gets a little happy or sad based on how you interact with him. Spencer offers an immense sense of satisfaction once he’s completed and accomplishing tasks, especially when you consider that you’ve just pieced together a little electronic friend from scratch.
This Spencer DIY Voice Assistant kit is available right now for only $119.95.
Prices subject to change.